Moab part 1

by John Thomas Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Moab
Moab is the name of an ancient Levantine kingdom (a person who lives in or comes from the Levant) whose territory is today located in the modern state of Jordan. The land is mountainous and lies alongside much of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archaeological findings, most notably the Mesha Stele, which describes the Moabite victory over an unnamed son of King Omri of Israel, an episode also noted in 2 Kings 3. The Moabite capital was Dibon. According to the Hebrew Bible, Moab was often in conflict with its Israelite neighbors to the west.

Etymology 1
The etymology of the word Moab is uncertain. The earliest explanation is found in the Koine Greek Septuagint (Genesis 19:37), which explains the name, in an apparent reference to the account of Moab's parentage ("from my father"). Other etymologies which have been proposed regard it as a corruption of the "seed of a father" or as a participial form from "to desire," thus connoting2 "the desirable (land)."
Rashi explains the word Moab to mean "from the father" since ab in Hebrew and Arabic and the rest of the Semitic languages means "father." He writes that due to the immodesty of Moab's name, God did not command the Israelites to refrain from inflicting pain upon the Moabites in the manner he did about the Ammonites. Fritz Hommel regards Moab as an abbreviation of Immo-ab =" his mother is his father."
According to Genesis 19:30–38, the ancestor of the Moabites was Lot by incest with his eldest daughter. Having lost their fiancés and their mother in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, she and her sister decided to continue their father's line through intercourse with their father. The elder got him drunk to facilitate the deed and conceived Moab. The younger daughter did the same and conceived a son named Ben-Ammi, who became an ancestor to the Ammonites. According to the Book of Jasher (24,24), Moab had four sons—Ed, Mayon, Tarsus, and Kanvil—and his wife, whose name is not given, is apparently from Canaan.
Geography
Topography
Moab was located on a plateau about 910 meters (3,000 ft) above the level of the Mediterranean, or 1,300 meters (4,300 ft) above the Dead Sea, rising gradually from north to south.
In the north are some long, deep ravines and Mount Nebo, famous as the scene of the death of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:1–8).
Boundaries in the Hebrew Bible
In Ezekiel 25:9, the boundaries are given as being marked by Beth-jeshimoth (north), Baal-meon (east), and Kiriathaim (south). That these limits were not fixed, however, is plain from the lists of cities given in Isaiah 15–16 and Jeremiah 48, where Heshbon, Elealeh, and Jazer are mentioned to the north of Beth-jeshimoth; Madaba, Beth-gamul, and Mephaath to the east of Baalmeon; and Dibon, Aroer, Bezer, Jahaz, and Kirhareseth to the south of Kiriathaim. The principal rivers of Moab mentioned in the Bible are the Arnon, the Dimon or Dibon, and the Nimrim.
The territory occupied by Moab at the period of its greatest extent, before the invasion of the Amorites, divided itself naturally into three distinct and independent portions: the enclosed corner or canton south 3 of the Arnon, referred to in the Bible as the "field of Moab" (Ruth 1:1,2,6). The more open rolling country north of the Arnon, opposite Jericho and up to the hills of Gilead, is called the "land of Moab" (Deuteronomy 1:5; 32:49) and the district below sea level in the tropical depths of the Jordan valley (Numbers 22:1).
Soil and vegetation
The rainfall is relatively plentiful, and the climate, despite the hot summer, is more remarkable than the area west of the Jordan river, with snow frequently falling in winter and spring. The limestone hills which form the almost treeless plateau are generally steep but fertile. They are covered in the spring with grass, and the tableland itself produces grain.
Ancient vestiges and current population
The plateau is dotted with hundreds of dolmens 4, menhirs 5, and stone circles and contains many ruined villages, mainly of the Roman and Byzantine periods. It contains al-Karak, whose modern inhabitants consider themselves descendants of Moabites.
Bronze Age
Despite a scarcity of archaeological evidence, the existence of the Kingdom of Moab prior to the rise of the Israelite state has been deduced from a colossal statue erected at Luxor by Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BCE, which lists Mu'ab among a series of nations conquered during a campaign. The early inhabitants likely came from the Arabian peninsula, immigrating due to the lack of water emphasized by a drought.
Iron Age
In the Nimrud 6 clay inscription of Tiglath-pileser III (r. 745–727 BCE), the Moabite king Salmanu (perhaps the Shalman who sacked Betharbel in Hosea 10:14) is mentioned as a tributary to Assyria. Sargon II mentions on a clay prism a revolt against him by Moab together with Philistia, Judah, and Edom, but on the Taylor prism, which recounts the expedition against Hezekiah, Kammusu-Nadbi (Chemosh-Nadab), King of Moab, brings tribute to Sargon as his suzerain. Another Moabite king, Mutzuri ("the Egyptian"?), is mentioned as one of the subject princes at the courts of Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal. At the same time, Kaasḥalta, possibly his successor, is named on cylinder B of Assurbanipal.
Sometime during the Persian period, Moab disappears from the extant historical record. Its territory was subsequently overrun by waves of tribes from northern Arabia, including the Kedarites and (later) the Nabataeans.
In Nehemiah 4:1, the Arabs are mentioned instead of the Moabites as the allies of the Ammonites.
Crusader period
When the Crusaders occupied the area, the castle they built to defend the eastern part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem was called Kerak Castle.
19th-century travelers
Early modern travelers in the region included Ulrich Jasper Seetzen (1805), Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (1812), Charles Leonard Irby and James Mangles (1818), and Louis Félicien de Saulcy (1851).
Biblical narratives
According to the biblical account, Moab and Ammon were born to Lot and Lot's elder and younger daughters, respectively, after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible refers to the Moabites and Ammonites as Lot's sons, born of incest with his daughters (Genesis 19:37–38).
The Moabites first inhabited the rich highlands at the eastern side of the chasm of the Dead Sea, extending as far as Wadi Mujib to Wadi Hasa. From that country, they expelled the Emim, the original inhabitants (Deuteronomy 2:11). However, they were afterward driven southward by warlike tribes of Amorites, who had crossed the river Jordan. These Amorites, described in the Bible as being ruled by King Sihon, confined the Moabites to the country south of the river Arnon, which formed their northern boundary (Numbers 21:13; Judges 11:18).
God renewed his covenant with the Israelites at Moab before the Israelites entered the Promised Land" (Deuteronomy 29:1). Moses died there (Deut 34:5), prevented by God from entering the Promised Land. He was buried in an unknown location in Moab, and the Israelites spent thirty days there in mourning (Deuteronomy 34:6–8).
After the conquest of Canaan, the relations of Moab with Israel were of a mixed character, sometimes warlike and sometimes peaceable. According to the Book of Judges, the Israelites did not pass through the land of the Moabites (Judges 11:18) but conquered Sihon's kingdom and his capital at Heshbon. With the tribe of Benjamin, they had at least one severe struggle in union with their kindred, the Ammonites and the Amalekites (Judges 3:12–30). The Benjaminite shofet Ehud ben Gera assassinated the Moabite king Eglon and led an Israelite army against the Moabites at a ford of the Jordan river, killing many of them.

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